Health Canada says benefits of controversial diabetes drug still outweigh risks

Health Canada has waded into the controversy over the diabetes medication rosiglitazone, which is sold under the brand name Avandia.

Health Canada has waded into the controversy over the diabetes medication rosiglitazone

Health Canada has waded into the controversy over the diabetes medication rosiglitazone

TORONTO — Health Canada has waded into the controversy over the diabetes medication rosiglitazone, which is sold under the brand name Avandia.

The national drug regulator said Thursday it is watching the unfolding scientific debate over the safety profile of the drug, but has no new recommendations about its use at this point.

“The benefits of rosiglitazone are still considered to outweigh the risks when used as directed in the Canadian Product Monographs,” the department said in a release that noted Health Canada recommends a more restrictive use of the drug than the U.S. drug regulator does.

Next week an expert panel convened by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will look at the accumulated scientific evidence on the drug and determine whether Avandia should remain on the U.S. market. Health Canada said it would monitor hearings.

A critic of the drug said Health Canada should act now.

“I think they should be re-examining it,” said Dr. David Juurlink of Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

Juurlink, who is a drug safety researcher and a specialist in internal medicine, published a study last summer that found people who took Avandia had a higher risk of serious heart disease events like heart failure, strokes and even death.

His is one of a number of studies that have suggested the drug is less safe than a sister medication, pioglitazone or Actos.

In May, Juurlink and the U.S. advocacy group Public Citizen called on the FDA to pull the plug on a large international trial comparing Actos and Avandia, saying it’s unethical to continue it given the safety concerns about Avandia.

The drug’s manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, insists a number of studies don’t show an increased cardiovascular risk from using the medication.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The interchange at Highway 2 and McKenzie Road at the south end of Gasoline Alley is being redesigned with two roundabouts. Construction is expected to begin this month and finish in October. (Graphic from Red Deer County)
Roudabouts coming to McKenzie Road overpass at Gasoline Alley

Project expected to improve traffic flow at busy intersections

A federal strategy to preserve threatened trout could conflict with provincial coal leases in the Eastern Slopes of the Rockies. (Contributed photo by Jeff Lund).
Federal regulations could save Alberta’s bull trout by shutting down mining plans, says biologist

Ottawa’s new strategy identifies a 30-metre protected area along rivers and streams

(Contributed image)
Wolf Creek Public Schools will not participate in curriculum pilot

Central Alberta school jurisdiction joins others across Alberta

Canada's Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes, fom left, celebrate after winning women's gold medal match against Brazil's team at the Beach Volley Worldtour Major Series, in Vienna, Austria on August 4, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Ronald Zak
Canada’s world champion beach volleyball duo finally getting games before Tokyo

Canada’s world champion beach volleyball duo finally getting games before Tokyo

Toronto Raptors center Khem Birch (24) gets fouled by Atlanta Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic (13) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Bogdanovic, Capela lead Hawks past Raptors 107-103

Bogdanovic, Capela lead Hawks past Raptors 107-103

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Hyun Jin Ryu throws to a New York Yankees batter during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Ryu sharp into 7th, Semien homers as Blue Jays top Yanks 7-3

Ryu sharp into 7th, Semien homers as Blue Jays top Yanks 7-3

Calgary Flames' Johnny Gaudreau (13) scores the game winning goal on Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender David Rittich (33) in overtime NHL action in Toronto on Tuesday, April 13, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Gaudreau scores in overtime, Flames beat Maple Leafs 3-2

Gaudreau scores in overtime, Flames beat Maple Leafs 3-2

Jim Bullock, Vicki Pappas and Randy Waples off to Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame

Jim Bullock, Vicki Pappas and Randy Waples off to Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame

Canada's Evelyne Viens celebrates scoring against Wales during the women's international friendly soccer match at Leckwith Stadium, Wales, Friday April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nick Potts/PA via AP
Canada capitalizes on England mistakes to win women’s soccer friendly 2-0

Canada capitalizes on England mistakes to win women’s soccer friendly 2-0

After weekend hiccup at men’s worlds, Grand Slams move into curling bubble

After weekend hiccup at men’s worlds, Grand Slams move into curling bubble

Erickson Gallardo of Canada's Toronto FC and his teammates celebrate after Andres Mosquera of Mexico's Leon scored an own goal during their Concacaf Champions League soccer match in Leon, Mexico, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRES/AP/Mario Armas
Toronto FC gets vaccine boost but injury list still an issue ahead of Leon rematch

Toronto FC gets vaccine boost but injury list still an issue ahead of Leon rematch

Most Read